Men ran over roofs to flee police after Norwich cannabis factory raid

Agron Gjoni, left, and Aleksander Hasa, right, who have both been jailed for production of cannabis.

Agron Gjoni, left, and Aleksander Hasa, right, who have both been jailed after the discovery of a cannabis factory in Norwich. - Credit: Norfolk Constabulary

Two men left in charge of a sophisticated cannabis factory in Norwich’s clubland ran across roofs to try and escape, a court has heard.

A cannabis factory containing more than 270 mature plants was discovered at the former KTV China City bar and restaurant on Prince of Wales Road.

Police at the former KTV China City bar in Norwich after a cannabis factory was discovered.

Police officers at the former KTV China City bar and restaurant on Prince of Wales Road in Norwich after a cannabis factory was discovered. - Credit: Peter Walsh, Archant Norfolk

Norwich Crown Court heard following the discovery, on April 21 this year, Aleksander Hasa, 21, and Agron Gjoni, 45, got out through a skylight and “ran across roofs” before they were caught.

John Farmer, prosecuting, said Hasa damaged a gate that he tried to break through at the neighbouring Bar and Beyond building.

After executing a drugs warrant police found the premises had been fully converted to a cannabis factory with a total of six growing rooms and 272 plants in the sophisticated  set-up.

Police at the former KTV China City bar and restaurant in Norwich after a cannabis factory was discovered.

Police officers at the former KTV China City bar and restaurant on Prince of Wales Road in Norwich after a cannabis factory was discovered. - Credit: Peter Walsh, Archant Norfolk

It was accepted the two men had not set up the factory but Mr Farmer said they were running it on behalf of others and were in an “operational management function”.

He said it was a factory “producing significant quantities for commercial purposes”.

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Hasa and Gjoni, both of no fixed abode, appeared at court on Tuesday (June 22) for sentence having previously admitted production of cannabis.

Both men, who spoke through an interpreter, had also previously admitted criminal damage.

Jailing both defendants for 27 months Judge Anthony Bate said it was a “professional and sophisticated” cannabis factory in the heart of Norwich’s clubland.

Judge Bate said it might be that “the prime movers behind this illicit enterprise had chosen to take advantage of lockdown when this part of Norwich was much quieter than normal”.

But he insisted “police were a match for it” and discovered the factory.

Dave Stewart, mitigating for Hasa, said the defendant came to the UK in order to make some money to support his family in Albania but was pressured into growing cannabis plants.

He said: “It’s disappointing to see this man of good character coming here with good intentions fall into this murky world of drug production”.

Andrew Oliver, mitigating for Gjoni, said there was no evidence of the defendant having an operational or management function.

He said the defendant, like his co-defendant, had been trafficked by lorry to this country adding that he pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.

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